Manchester United have been linked with a move for Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso – but do the Old Trafford outfit really need him?
Alonso, who moved to Madrid for £30million back in 2009, is an extremely talented player who can dictate the tempo of a game from a deep-lying central midfield role - but he far too much like Michael Carrick.
Manchester United midfielder Carrick, who is just a couple of months older than Alonso, plays in the same role as the Spaniard and is just as effective as the former Liverpool man.
They are both extremely good at retaining possession and intercepting the opposing team’s play, before passing it onto a teammate who is capable of causing more damage on the ball than they are.
Manchester United have been crying out for a midfielder who can play alongside Carrick, rather than someone who can replace the 32-year-old.
They need an aggressive defensive midfielder who is not afraid of putting his foot in where it hurts. David Moyes thought summer signing Marouane Fellaini would be that man, but he has so far failed to settle into life at Old Trafford.
Real Madrid star Alonso usually plays alongside another deep-lying midfielder who is capable of playing in the role that Manchester United are in need of.
For Spain, Alonso is often deployed next to Sergio Busquets, whose role is to screen the back four rather than to push forward or create opportunities from a deep-lying position.
Alonso plays his best football for Real Madrid in exactly the same position, as Carlo Ancelotti often plays him next to Sami Khedira when he plays with two in midfield.
Players of Alonso’s quality are not often available on a free transfer but Manchester United would be making a mistake if they were to sign him as he is far too similar to Carrick.